Sunday, November 07, 2010

Best. Steak. Ever.

In life, there is steak and then there is STEAK. Yes, that's right, the capitalization of the second version makes all the difference in the world.

This past weekend I had STEAK of the Porterhouse variety and it was, as the title suggests, the Best.Steak.Ever. It's possible, however, in my assessment of this particular steak, that I am also considering other elements of the dinner that made it absolutely delightful. There was, for example, the yummy side of mixed vegetables that had been slow-cooked, along with the steak, on the BBQ at low heat. Oh, and of course, the appertif to the meal included aged cheddar cheese and red pepper jelly from Riverview Country Market (highly recommended). The PEI Liquor Commission recently saw the light and started stocking OPEN Gwertz-Riesling (a Niagara wine), which also made everything taste particularly sweet and lovely. But if I had to pinpoint the one thing that made this particular steak dinner the best I've ever enjoyed, it wasn't even an edible component. Indeed, it was the man who made the meal and then sat down to enjoy it with me.

I love it when a man offers to cook for me (it doesn't happen often). And when he makes an amazing meal, even better. But I have to admit that even if the steaks had been burnt I'd still be quite over the moon about the meal because, well, I suppose I must confess to being enamored (I say this in full knowledge that he will be reading this post and, quite possibly, other members of his family too!). That's right, in the most unlikely of places (PEI), when I *really* wasn't expecting it, I found myself in the company of someone I wanted to get to know more. A lot more.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Rewind a few weeks to a rainy Sunday evening, post-10 km race and I find myself sitting at the Olde Triangle with the Steak Man (if you're wondering what his real name is, think Skywalker...or a dog's name...). Despite being in a state of exhaustion from running in the a.m. (mostly related to the fact that I had to get up at an ungodly hour, rather than the actual run itself), I was excited to be on this date. First, it meant I could indulge in an alcoholic beverage. About six weeks prior I'd promised myself that I would only drink alcohol if I were on a date, and the only other guy I'd been on dates with didn't drink (clearly, that was doomed from the outset). But it wasn't *just* because I could drink that I was looking forward to this date, I also had an intuition I'd enjoy this person's company. My intuition rarely steers me wrong. We stayed at the bar until they started stacking the chairs.

He suggested dinner the following weekend. We ended up at Rum Runners on Water Street upon his recommendation - he insisted I would not be disappointed. I had a feeling I might be underwhelmed by the food, based on reviews from friends and family, but I really didn't care in the least. In the end, we both found the food disappointing, but it didn't put any sort of damper on the evening at all. I was delighted to be drinking wine (yet again) with Steak Man, in a cozy pub where all the servers spoke with lovely British accents.

After the RR date, it was evident we were both inclined to set a third one. I determined that I would impress him with my stellar cooking skills. Or so I thought. Except that I neglected to follow the golden rule when making dinner for someone: Never, ever try something new in the kitchen. Pffft, I thought to myself, such advice is only for kitchen novices! Clearly I should use this as an opportunity to cook up the massive free-range chicken I have to pick up the day before. Truth be told, I really had no option but to cook that chicken, as there was no room in my freezer. But really, it might not have been the wisest decision to attempt roasting a 1o pound chicken on a Friday evening after work, especially given that I'd only ever roasted one other chicken in my entire life.

Unsurprisingly, dinner was late. Apparently it takes a few hours to cook a big bird. It also turns out that, in the absence of an electric knife, my carving skills are rather lacking. I had flashbacks to Grade 2, when Ms. Diezel wrote on my report card that I didn't know how to hold my scissors. To this day my sister still laughs at the way I handle them. Also, mental note for future - sometimes less is more, and more is just glue. Yes, I had the brilliant idea to tamper with Chef Michael Smith's recipe for brown butter mashed potatoes. All he wanted me to do was brown some butter and add it to the potatoes, then mash. Ah but I had to be 'creative' and pour in a bit of milk and, what the heck, some pure maple syrup too! I'm glad I had indulged in some Open by the time the bird came out of the oven, as I was able to partially blame the mini-disasters of the evening on the alcohol I'd consumed. Also, the Steak Man was a trooper and made his way through the gluey clump of mashed potatoes sitting on his plate. I like to think I redeemed myself with my old stand-by spinach salad and bananas foster dessert, both of which seemed well received (then again, he insisted the potatoes were good too, so I'm not sure where sincerity ended and sympathy began). In any case, I daresay the evening was a success despite minor setbacks in the kitchen because he insisted that the next dinner would be made by him.

Which brings us to the aforementioned steak dinner of this past Friday, which, it should be noted, was a particularly blustery, dark, and rainy one. The steaks had been soaking in Innis & Gunn beer all day (!). He told me they were big. I figured he was exaggerating, as men are want to do when it suits, but he wasn't. These steaks reminded me of the ones that some restaurants feature along with a challenge 'if you can eat this steak in under an hour, you eat for free!). So I took a picture (see below), and then took my first bite. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Apparently I make my appreciation of food well-known to fellow diners. I figure it's an important part of sharing the eating experience and make no apologies for my enthusiasm. It was entirely warranted in this case.

And that is how I came to have the best.steak.ever.

It seems this blog post has become more than a tale of two steaks, but that’s not surprising. Rarely is a food experience limited to the pleasures (or disasters!) that end up on the dinner plate. I look forward to more BBQs with Steak Man (don't worry, I will find a better pseudonym for him, I just lack the wit right now) and hope I semi-redeemed myself the following evening when I brought over lamb sliders stuffed with chevre and bacon.


Rob said...

OK move over Shannon - I have my eye on this steak

Shannon Courtney said...

Haha - sorry Rob, this steak's all for me!

Jessica said...

You definitely have fellow "Steak Man" family reading! You are so cute! I bet the steak was delicious.. did I mention it is MASSIVE!?